Happy Birthday, American Legion

 

Cooperstown’s American Legion is celebrating their birthday today!

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A nice corned beef and cabbage dinner was planned and I was asked to make their dessert. A half & half cake… that is half vanilla/half chocolate cake. This one has buttercream frosting and fondant decorations.

(The smiley face was completely unintentional and was not even noticeable until the picture was taken from this distance. Que Sera, Sera!)

Happy Birthday, American Legion! Thank you all for your service!

60th Anniversary

 

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60th Anniversary cake-vanilla cake, chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream, and silver fondant hearts.

Happy Anniversary to the happy couple!

Who says you can’t use Christmas cookie cutters year round?

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What do you see when you look at this cookie cutter? A Santa face complete with hat? Sure. Most people can see that… but Angie ( www.bakerella.com ) saw something else. Something really cute! Let me turn it on it’s side and see if you can guess…

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Do you see it now? …………..No?

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How about now? With my daughter doing a report on whales, we thought this was the perfect valentine for her to take in! And Angie even provided the PDF for the cards! Thanks, Angie! The cookie cutter I found, had a pointy Santa beard; but I am lucky enough to have a tin knocker for a dad! He was able to reshape the cookie cutter a little (so that the whale’s face was rounded and I didn’t have to cut off and move the top ‘brim’ of the hat to form the spray); but if you aren’t so lucky, you can follow the instructions on Angie’s website www.bakerella.com .

Unfortunately, our school had a snow day today and are off for Winter Break all next week…. so in the freezer they go! Hoping to thaw these 4 dozen cookies the day before school begins again-without the Royal Icing becoming a disaster! Cross your fingers!

Sweet Cupcake Mailbox for Valentines

For my 1st Grader’s February’s family project, we had to make a mailbox to hold her Valentine cards at school.  So what do you think this baking family came up with?

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A sweet cupcake mailbox, of course!

Let Your Senses Rise

Part of the reason I enjoy baking is it wakes up all of the senses! Of course there is the most obvious, taste-it’s got to taste amazing. Then there is sight-if you don’t make it look good, who is going to even try it? The sense of smell is also quite normal to think about when you bake. Then there is touch-the feel of the different textures in your mouth-the chewy, crispy, crunchy, creamy… The last one, the one that most people wouldn’t think about, is sound-but the whirr of the mixer is often the first clue that something good is about to happen in the kitchen (and of course there is the “MMMMMMM” that you hear)!

This day in the kitchen, my senses started rising with the yeast! Both of the very different items I made this day began with yeast.

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The smell of yeast as it bubbles… sniiiiiifffff, ahhhhh. Senses awaken.

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And rise. The smell of onion bagels is great no matter where you are in the process.

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How is this for touch? The purpose of the corn meal may be to prevent the dough from sticking, but it leaves such a great texture to English muffins.

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Crisping up the outside of these muffins, my mouth was already watering thinking of the butter soaking into the nooks and crannies … or the egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches I would be enjoying. Aside from the whirr of the mixer, the crispy crust on the muffins against the hot pan were a welcome sound as well.

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How are these for sight?

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And I’m sure you can imagine how awesome they both tasted!

Lace Wedding Cake

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I was happy to be able to make this cake for today’s beautiful wedding, and I was honored to be able to stay and take photos throughout the day! The setting was amazing-a luxury ranch just a few minutes from my home that I never even knew existed! The sun was shining and it was balmy (okay, maybe not balmy, but compared to the double-digit negative temps we have had lately, today felt like a heat wave!).

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The snow-covered drive lead me to a big ranch overlooking the mountainside. Everything about this ranch was grand-from the fields and fencing, to the entrance, to the woodwork, to the heated floors, to the fireplaces, to the tub so big you could swim in it, to the glass floor overlooking the indoor pool, to the warm and friendly staff that hosted the event and put out such a great brunch for us all to feast on! (As if you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend the B & B Ranch!).

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I got to sneak into the master suite as they were getting ready for the ceremony. The kids were learning to play chess, while the adults were primping and making sure everything was in order. And it was… so maybe there were a few things forgotten, but that wasn’t going to put a damper on such a great day.

As this friend from my childhood stood there exchanging vows with the love of her life, I saw such happiness, such love, and I couldn’t help but get choked up! It was absolutely beautiful. And the fact that they included their sons in the ceremony made it just that much more heartwarming. It may have been a very intimate wedding with just a few guests, but it was one of the most heart-felt and sincere that I have been to in a long time.

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Congratulations to Aileen and Crystal!

*About the cake… I was asked to make two tiers-one vanilla with strawberry filling and one carrot with cream cheese filling and I was told that their colors were eggplant and dark orange. I frosted both tiers with buttercream and covered with marshmallow fondant. I piped the eggplant colored ‘lace’ on the fondant and topped it with some dark orange fondant roses. The design was left completely up to me-I had always wanted to pipe some lace, but I had no idea that the wedding dress would be lace, too!

Army v. Navy Cake

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December 2013 Army v. Navy football cake

 

Soft Pretzel Buns!

131012_0000I am kind of known for my soft pretzels around here. People go crazy over them and have come to expect them whenever I go somewhere. It just might be to the point where I would be sent packing if I showed up to a party without them! lol. One of our friends came up with the idea of making pretzel rolls for bratwurst or burgers, and with all the ads on television about all the fast food chains having pretzel buns for their sandwiches, we all wanted to find out how a sandwich would taste on one of my pretzels. I had already tried out the breakfast sandwich on my soft pretzels, so when I heard that they would be smoking a pork tenderloin and burgers at Pierstown Press Fest, I knew I had to make some pretzel buns so we could try ‘em out! No surprise there, the pretzel buns were a perfect match for the tenderloin and burgers (and sausage, too!)!

Chicken Riggies-A Shout Out to Utica!

Chicken Riggies are a native dish to the Utica, NY area, as far as I know. It’s a chicken and Rigatoni pasta dish that has a little kick to it’s sauce. picture565

This beautiful velvety sauce simmers for an hour until it reduces and thickens enough to hug the pasta.

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The pasta is coated with melted butter and parmesan cheese (I used Pennette because it’s small-mouth friendly).

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The last step is when the pasta is married with the sauce. Mmmmmm, mmmmmm, good! Thank you, Utica!

 

Fresh Apple Cider

I got the chance to join some friends in making fresh apple cider this weekend at the Pierstown Press Fest! The apple picking had already been done and the loot was bountiful! So, just a few simple steps, only one ingredient, and a few hours later, we had gallons upon gallons of delicious fresh apple cider!

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Step 1: Washing

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Step 2: Chopping

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Step 3: Pressing

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Crank the press down…

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And the cider starts flowing!

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The apple pulp will feed the wildlife through the winter months.

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Step 4: Bottling.

What a beautiful day it was-sun was shining, music playing, friends manning the stations and working together like a well-oiled machine! Not to mention the smoked pork tenderloin, sausage, and burgers on pretzel buns (I made these from scratch-stay tuned to a future post), with chicken riggies (I also made these-which I will post about later), potato salad, macaroni salad, grill-roasted veggies, and ‘apple pie’ to drink!

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As the day drifted into night, we rounded out this perfect day with a fire. It was a small one, but suited it’s purpose just fine!

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A mule ride (of the ATV sort, not the mammal type) up the hill to a star-lit sky and we huddled around to block the wind while the paper lanterns were lit.

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It may have taken several tries, and a burned finger or two, but we had lift off!

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We not only had our freshly made apple cider, but to commemorate the occasion, we were also given these great t-shirts!

What an awesome day we had at Pierstown Press Fest! Thank you to our hosts, B&B, and  to all our other friends that made the day what it was!

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